Trainer Christophe Clement will seek his fifth victory in the $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes (gr. IIT) when he sends out a pair of inexperienced but promising fillies making their stakes debuts in the 11-furlong turf event May 22 at Belmont Park.
European shippers Tarrip and The Gaillimh Girl are two of eight fillies and mares tackling the Sheepshead Bay, which highlights Belmont’s 10-race program. Trainer Tom Proctor has also entered a pair, while Tom Albertrani, who won the race in 2009 with Criticism, is also back for another try with 5-year-old Liberally. The 118-pound high weight is Bubbly Jane, a dual group I winner in Brazil who won a pair of overnight stakes at Belmont last year in her first year racing in the United States.
Castleton Lyons’ homebred Tarrip finished 11th in her racing debut last year in Ireland, but is undefeated in two starts since coming over to the U.S. The daughter of Green Desert—Spinnette (by Spinning World) broke her maiden on the Tampa Bay Downs turf in February, and then scored a first-level allowance event at Keeneland going nine furlongs on the Polytrack in April. She has since been shipped to Belmont to train, where she has turned in two works on the main track.
A $400,000 Keeneland September 2007 yearling sale purchase, she will be ridden for the first time by Alan Garcia.
Amanda Pope’s Irish-bred The Gaillimh Girl broke her maiden last September in France, then made a winning U.S. debut last month in an allowance contest at Keeneland going 11 furlongs on the grass. The Montjeu filly stayed in Lexington to train for the Sheepshead Bay. Javier Castellano has the mount on the 5-2 morning-line favorite.
Clement last won the Sheepshead Bay in 2008 with Mauralakana.
Proctor’s two starters are Blue Nine Stables’ Ballynoe, a Distorted Humor filly who won the Claire Marine Stakes over the Arlington Park turf last fall, and Barbara Hunter’s Pari, also a winner at the Keeneland spring meet and making her stakes debut.
Liberally started the year with a pair of third-place finishes in Florida, an optional claimer at Gulfstream in February and the grade III Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs March 13. The Hillsborough was won by Phola, who went on to take the Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs in her next start.
"The course was really soft and boggy the day of the Hillsborough and she didn’t really pick up her feet, but she still managed to finish third,” Albertrani said of the daughter of Statue of Liberty, who has finished sixth in her two most recent starts, the Orchid (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream March 28 and the Beaugay (gr. IIIT) at Belmont May 1.
Juddmonte Farms’ Treat Gently has made her last four starts in graded stakes company, including a runner-up finish in the San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita in her 5-year-old debut. A group II winner in France back in 2008, the Cape Cross mare is trained by Bill Mott, who last won this race back in 1995 with Duda. Kent Desormeaux, aboard Mauralakana for Clement in 2008, will be in the irons.
Statehouse Stable’s Nehantic Kat is graded stakes placed twice in 2010, both at Gulfstream Park. The 7-year-old New York-bred daughter of Tomorrows Cat has won a pair of restricted stakes for trainer Barclay Tagg. She is 2-2-2 from eight starts over the Belmont turf course.
$150,000 Sheepshead Bay (gr. IIT, Race 9, 5:17 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Pari (KY), J K Court, 116, T F Proctor
2. Treat Gently (GB), K J Desormeaux, 116, W I Mott
3. Tarrip (KY), A Garcia, 116, C Clement
4. Ballynoe (KY), C Hill, 116, T F Proctor
5. Nehantic Kat (NY), R A Dominguez, 116, B Tagg
6. Bubbly Jane (BRZ), R Maragh, 118, P H Lobo
7. The Gaillimh Girl (IRE), J Castellano, 116, C Clement
8. Liberally (IRE), C H Velasquez, 116, T Albertrani